This reliance on collaboration with coach Matt Nagy by Bears general manager Ryan Pace could not take place during a better NFL Draft than this one.
When left to his own devices, Pace produced Mitchell Trubisky, Kevin White, Adam Shaheen, Jonathan Bullard and Hroniss Grasu in the draft's first two days.
He had a few successes during that same period, like Eddie Goldman and Cody Whitehair. By and large, wins came sporadically.
It's obvious in this draft the Bears need a cornerback, a wide receiver, at least one tackle and a long-term answer at quarterback.
Other minor needs can be filled later in the draft, but it's safe to say the four key need positions are not exactly in Pace's wheelhouse based on past drafts.
So, he can use the help.
Pace made his most selections at wide receiver (6), running back (5) and cornerback (5). The running back success rate has been better than the other two, at least at the moment.
Pace's success rate at wide receiver is mediocre to poor, depending on what you make of Anthony Miller. It's safe to say only two of Pace's receiver picks have been real producers and it's too soon to go overboard on Mooney.
It's difficult to call Miller a failure when he has ranked in the top six to eight among his draft class at the position in most statistical categories.
Lumped in with Mooney, it at least gives Pace a little bit to save face with after the debacle that is the first pick he ever made, Kevin White.
For a seventh-round pick, even Javon Wims couldn't have been declared a flop until he decided to enlist in Chauncey Gardner-Johnson's fight club before Miller did, and then embarrassed everyone in the playoffs by letting Trubisky's greatest pass of all time go uncontested through his hands.
The jury remains out at cornerback because Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley are in the midst of testing, while Jaylon Johnson looks like a success barring regression.
At tackle, Pace appears set to break new ground this year.
The only tackles he selected to date were two players no one is sure even plays the position — Arlington Hambright because he hasn't played anywhere yet while being labeled a guard or tackle, and Tayo Fabuluje because his PED suspension was as long as his Bears playing career at four games. Both were seventh-round picks, so looking early for a legitimate tackle is not something Pace has ever done.
Finally, there is long-term quarterback. It's here where Pace suffered one of his greatest embarrassments with Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Mercifully, he never selected another quarterback.
Here is the book on Ryan Pace the drafter and collaborator:
- Quarterback is the position with the fewest drafted players (1).
- Safety is his best position, with four useful or starting players chosen in four attempts from the fourth round or later: Eddie Jackson (4th), Deon Bush (4th), Adrian Amos (5th) and DeAndre Houston-Carson (6th).
- Interior defensive line is a place he seems to know well, although the sample size is small. He took Goldman (2nd) and Bilal Nichols (5th) as well as Bullard (3rd).
- Interior offensive line is his next best positional success with Cody Whitehair (2nd) and James Daniels (2nd), to go with Hambright (7th), Lachavious Simmons (7th), Grasu (3rd) and Jordan Morgan (5th). Morgan never played a down.
- Pace has drafted best in Round 2, where he has a good success rate and many selections: Goldman, Whitehair, Daniels, Johnson, Miller, tight end Cole Kmet and a flop with Shaheen.
- The fourth and fifth rounds offer hope as well, because they included Jackson, Amos, Mooney, Nichols, running back Tarik Cohen, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski in addition to less productive Bears like running back Jeremy Langford, Mills, cornerback Deiondre' Hall and wide receiver Riley Ridley
- Pace is not very good in Rounds 1 and 3. In Round 1, linebacker Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd were his best, and Floyd only worked out after he left. Pace was 0-for-2 in Round 3 with Bullard and Grasu until David Montgomery was a smash success. Pace is worse in Rounds 6 and 7, as the only players he has drafted then who ever started a game were Wims (7 games), Shelley (2 games) and Simmons (1 game).
- Amos and Mooney have been his greatest draft steals, both coming in Round 5.
- Pace's greatest draft success was Jackson, an All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl player who came in Round 4.
- Pace's greatest draft failure was White, the first pick he ever made. White couldn't play the game. Trubisky is a close second, but not because he was a complete failure. He did play well enough to lead two defense-driven teams to the playoffs. He just wasn't worth taking in the first few picks or first few rounds even, and they passed on two of the great quarterbacks of this era to take him.
- Pace has made 39 selections in six drafts and 23 are still with the team.
- Of the 39, 16 became a starter for at least two seasons and two others were rotational starters.
- Pace is more likely to trade up in the draft than down. He has traded up eight times and traded down three times.